COVID-19: Schools update - 5 January

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schools update

dan barton

Dear all,

First and foremost I wish to extend my thanks to all of you, your senior teams and wider staff bodies for all of the time and effort that you continue to put in during these challenging times. 

We are aware there has been a number of questions resulting from last night's announcement that schools are closing and we have done our best to cover these most urgent issues in our communications today. 

Our Covid-19 Education Group is also meeting today to discuss these issues and others in detail and further communications will be issued later this week. 

Yours,

Dan Barton
Assistant Director - Education and Skills


Vulnerable children and critical worker children provision

Following the national lockdown announcement by the government last night, schools in Cumbria have closed and teaching has moved online until at least February half-term under new national guidelines.

Colleges, primary and secondary schools are expected to remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. As part of this lockdown we are not currently looking to establish School Hubs like last time and if it looks likely that there are any changes on this we will work with schools and ensure they are kept informed. 

To facilitate this it is essential that schools link in with their Dedicated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and SENCO leads to ensure that provision can be made for all vulnerable children during the current lockdown. 

Our Leaning Improvement Service (LIS) will be in touch with all schools this week to check your capacity to meet this need and we urge you to complete the DfE daily return form (when the new version becomes available) to keep us informed of any issues with resource and staffing.


Lateral flow testing pilot scheme

We would like to thank all the schools involved with the pilot for the Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) launched yesterday. 

Sadly we cannot continue with the pilot scheme as planned but we will be sharing the results of the information gathered with all schools in due course.

As part of our ongoing response to yesterday's announcement we will be having conversations today about how we can redirect the LFT pilot in the future and will be sending out further communications around this. 


Remote learning and access to digital devices for vulnerable children

Ensuring disadvantaged children in certain year groups have access to digital devices until face-to-face education can resume is at the top of everyone's priority list. 

Schools need to continue to access the existing website to order laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children who need them. 

We understand that the latest position from the government is that the children of critical workers must take priority for school places but where a family is struggling to access IT for remote learning head teachers can class them as vulnerable so they can attend school, at their own discretion. 

The DfE guidance on remote learning is currently being updated and we suggest schools look out for the latest guidance on the gov.uk website. 


Free School Meals distribution

Our team has been in touch with DfE for updates on the situation regarding Free School Meals (FSM) but would encourage schools to arrange local delivery themselves where possible. 

Where this proves impossible, in extreme circumstances, we can provide support from the fire service. More detail on this support will be made available in further bulletins. 


Guidance for early years settings within schools

The PM's announcement that nursery schools should remain open has led to some confusion where nursery provision is based within a  school. 

This area is now being reviewed and we will share further guidance around nurseries based within school settings as it becomes available. 


Resilience hub for public sector workers

You have been working hard through what has been one of the most challenging times in living memory. The Lancashire and South Cumbria Resilience Hub is for public sector workers and volunteers who have worked through the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you feel that you’ve been struggling with your mental health through Covid-19 you can contact the hub on 01772 520228 or you can email the team on lschub@lscft.nhs.uk. For more information please visit their website.